COVID-19 Updates

COVID-19 Safety Measures

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Your Safety Is Our Priority

Our top priority is the health, safety and well-being of people living in the communities we serve, volunteers, staff and partners. We are implementing new operational standards, which include Infection Prevention and Controls; however, these measures cannot guarantee that you will not become infected with COVID-19. Further, attending an All Hands and Hearts’ program could increase your risk of contracting COVID-19.

For those planning to volunteer, see more information on the COVID-19 threat of exposure.

All Hands and Hearts is implementing safety control measures to address the following COVID-19 risks:

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How We’re Keeping You Safe

Preventative Measures

Below are the safety measures we will implement across our programs, with more in development.

DM12 Initiative

DM12 is a 12-week service commitment to communities impacted by natural disasters. This initiative is built on our 15 years of disaster relief experience, enabling us to safely restart volunteer operations in 2020. The group structure, with participants arriving/departing program and working on the same 12-week schedule, reduces potential exposure points to COVID-19. This initiative will replace our regular volunteer application and acceptance process until we are safely and effectively able to mobilize and engage volunteers on an individual basis.

Health Screening

All volunteers and staff will undergo health screening and regular monitoring to help identify any individual who may be infected with, or show any symptoms associated with COVID-19.

We require all volunteers to arrive at our base with a recent molecular-biological COVID-19 test (PCR test), indicating they tested negative.

Before you arrive
Through our health screening control measures, we aim to reduce the likelihood of any person who is symptomatic of COVID-19 from entering the base. It is not possible to remove the threat from patients who are asymptomatic, pre-symptomatic or even those with mild symptoms. The various physical distancing control measures are required to reduce the likelihood and severity of this threat.

  • Self-checks for 14 days prior to your arrival, checking for the presence of any of the symptoms of COVID-19;
  • Complete a COVID-19 test within five days of arrival.

On arrival

  • Self-declaration of health, before entering base;
  • Temperature checks at the entrance to base;
  • Ensuring your recent COVID-19 test results are negative;

Throughout your time volunteering
We will closely monitor developments in new testing methodologies and strive to provide our team the most reliable testing available to us at each program. Note, we may face situations where testing is not readily available to test people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19

  • Regular temperature checks;
  • Testing of volunteers and staff for COVID-19 (if testing is available, and subject to permission);
  • Daily self-declaration of health.

Responsible Physical Distancing

Our base of operations and work sites will be designed to allow for responsible physical distancing.

Normal Situation

  • Small groups;
  • Maintain responsible distance from others who are not in your group;
  • Communal spaces are available (with physical distancing);
  • Community integration is kept to a minimum.

Increased Risk (i.e. localized outbreak)

  • Less interaction between groups;
  • Communal spaces are closed;
  • Community is given updated information and need-only interaction is implemented.

Localized Outbreak

  • Operations will be suspended and our base becomes quarantined.

Increased Hygiene and Sanitation Measures

Our base of operations and vehicles will be thoroughly and regularly cleaned and disinfected by trained cleaners. Increased hygiene and sanitation efforts include:

Personal Hygiene
Simple personal hygiene, including frequent hand washing and not touching your eyes, nose or mouth, is essential to minimizing the spread of coronavirus and other viruses. All team members will be strongly encouraged to engage in frequent handwashing and hand sanitizer will be prominently placed and easily accessible at base and on work sites.

Sanitation Measures

  • Regular disinfection of shared areas and high touch points by trained cleaners;
  • Promotion of good ventilation on base and worksites;
  • Safe food hygiene, laundry and disposal practices.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

We ask that every staff member and volunteer wear a face covering when in public. We will provide disposable masks and make other Personal Protective Equipment, such as goggles and gloves, freely available. If there is an increased risk of exposure to the virus (i.e. localized outbreak), we will have increased levels of Respiratory Protection (i.e. three-ply and n95 masks) and other PPE as required by a specific risk assessment.

AHAH Contact Tracing

We are implementing wearable technology solutions to help track close contacts within our bases of operation. Contact tracing and quarantining of people with COVID-19 and close contacts are critical to help slow transmission of COVID-19 (refer to the CDC for more information).

Response to Exposure and Infection

We must accept that potential exposures and infections to COVID-19 are inevitable. To guide our response to the situation, we have a location-specific contingency plan to promote the safety of all involved.

Our approach to the isolation of potentially infected team members and quarantining of their close contacts will follow the guidance offered by the CDC.

We will offer the potential patient supported isolation—providing food, accommodation, communication devices and access to mental health support services for the duration of any required isolation. We will ask the individual to complete a COVID-19 test as soon as it is safe to do so.

Using the tools from our Contract Tracing control measures, we will establish a list of those who had had close contact with the potential carrier, within the previous 14 days. We will contact each of these people, notify them of the potential exposure and advise them to act in accordance with their local regulations, which will likely require a 14 day quarantine period. If the secondary contacts remain in our program, we will offer a supported quarantine.

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Program Specific Guides

How do I apply to volunteer?
In response to COVID-19, we have set up DM12, a specific initiative to meet our commitments to communities impacted by disasters. DM12 is a 12-week service commitment built on our 15 years of disaster relief experience, enabling us to safely restart volunteer operations in 2020. The group structure, with participants arriving/departing program and working on the same 12-week schedule, reduces potential exposure points to COVID-19. This initiative will replace our regular volunteer application and acceptance process until we are safely and effectively able to mobilize and engage volunteers on an individual basis. Learn more about DM12 here.

Where can I learn more about the coronavirus disease to better prepare myself?
For more information about COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease and Controls (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) websites.

How are you deciding when to restart operations in a specific location?
The indicators we use to determine if, and when, we can restart operations take into account advice from agencies like the CDC and WHO. Our framework also considers travel restrictions, local government rules and regulations, along with community willingness and advice from other NGOs that are confronting the same challenges.

How will you keep the communities you serve safe?
We will adhere to local external regulations and adapt our safety measures to the evolving situation in the specific location we are working.

We are taking preventative measures to ensure our team (including volunteers) is symptom free, and quickly identify symptoms if they develop. We will minimize interaction with the community and track “close contacts” when there is interaction with the community.

When we hire from the community, we will carefully explain the risks to onward contacts, provide all necessary Personal Protective Equipment and train the person on safety measures, appropriate to their role.

What measures are you taking to prevent COVID-19 when you welcome volunteers from all over the world?
Please refer to the “How We’re Keeping You Safe” section above and reach out to us at [email protected] if you have additional questions.

Are there any restrictions on who can volunteer?
At this time our regular volunteer application is closed and restrictions around who can apply for DM12 may be applicable. We are unable to accept volunteers who are at a higher risk of severe illness or over 65 to join DM12 at this time.

What if there are travel restrictions from my country? How can I get to program?
All Hands and Hearts is unable to account for travel restrictions from individual countries. Each volunteer should review the local regulations applicable to them and comply with the advice.

Will there be stricter limits on how many volunteers are allowed to be on-program at a time?
As part of our physical distancing preventative measures, we have looked at each of our locations and re-planned the space to be appropriate for COVID-19. Inevitably this has led to a reduction in available spaces on our base.

What do I need to do in preparation for arrival? (temp checks, testing)
In the lead up to your trip, check that you are symptom free by regularly taking your temperature and monitoring for other symptoms. Please inform us if you have had COVID-19 symptoms at any point within 14-days of your planned arrival. You will also need to take a COVID-19 test within five days before your arrival—you will be required to show the results, indicating that you have tested negative, at the base to ensure anyone arriving on our program is not infected with COVID-19.

What type of COVID-19 testing do I need to have?
At this time, All Hands and Hearts will accept any recent molecular-biological COVID-19 test (PCR test), indicating they test negative. COVID-19 testing is an area undergoing rapid change and we will continue to review the most up-to-date tools available to us, and update you if we make any changes to the tests we will accept.

What if I show symptoms when I arrive?
Through our health screening control measures, we aim to reduce the likelihood of any person who is symptomatic of COVID-19 from entering the base. If a person arrives with symptoms, we will implement our response plan which would include isolating that person in separate accommodation.

Are you testing volunteers?
Testing is an area where we are seeing much technical development. Where safe and accessible, testing will be part of the solution. Further details will be provided on a per-program basis. Please reach out to us at [email protected] if you have additional questions.

What types of face coverings do I need to wear?
In normal circumstances we ask that you cover your face with an improvised face covering. This can be any cloth covering which meets the following requirements:

  • The mouth and nose are fully covered
  • The covering fits snugly against the sides of the face so there are no gaps
  • You do not have any difficulty breathing while wearing the cloth face covering
  • The cloth face covering can be tied or otherwise secured to prevent slipping

All Hands and Hearts will provide a stock of disposable masks for your use, you are welcome to bring your own cloth face covering. For more information, please reference this guidance from the CDC.

How will you support volunteers with COVID-19 mental health impacts?
To support the well-being of our global team, we have partnered with Aetna to provide access to qualified clinicians (via phone). This resource is available to you as a volunteer on program to support you in managing and maintaining your well-being.

What if there is a concern that someone on the program has COVID-19?
Though our health screening control measures, we aim to quickly identify any symptomatic patients. Once identified, we will implement our location specific Response Plan, promoting the safety of all.

Will I have to isolate if I have symptoms?
As per the current expert advice, if you exhibit symptoms we will ask you to move to our supported isolation facility. Whereby, All Hands and Hearts will provide food, accommodation, communication devices and access to mental health support services, for the duration of any required isolation. We will ask you to complete a COVID-19 test as soon as it is safe to do so. Duration of isolation will be in line with the latest guidance from the CDC.

If I get COVID-19 on the program, will AHAH cover my medical expenses?
We have an organizational medical insurance policy which covers those volunteering outside of their home country in the event of any injury or illness while you are with us on our program. If you have any questions about our insurance policy, please do not hesitate to ask and we will be happy to help.

If anything changes with COVID-19 in-country, what is the plan for volunteers?
All Hands and Hearts have established a system to monitor the local situation and to increase/ decrease safety controls. The objective of this system is to align our controls with the level of threat from the virus in the location. We have also established operational suspension plans.

Will you ever need to suspend operations again?
We will regularly monitor the state of the virus in our specific locations and are prepared to adapt in response to changes in the situation. This may mean increasing, or decreasing our preventative measures, temporary quarantining our program, or even returning to a suspended state.

If you close the program, while I am there or before I get there, will you reimburse my travel?
We will endeavour to ensure volunteers are not financially impacted if we have to close our program. We strongly recommend that you have travel insurance that insures you against your trip.

I’d like to offer feedback on your COVID-19 safety measures. Who do I contact?
We welcome feedback. Please use this form to provide feedback directly to the Safety team. For matters other than specific feedback on our safety measures, please see our website: https://www.allhandsandhearts.org/contact-us/

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